“ Emilé…” Her father rasped as he choked on his own blood, his hand clutching an obscenely gaping lesion in his chest; the heart almost visible as it sputtered in its last vestiges of life.
“You can meet me in Hell, “ He struggled as he spat out a sickly looking black bodily fluid and cackling like a sick maniac he continued, “ both you and Amielé.”
Emilé Roux’s life was a conception of colourful hues and cheerfulness; where glee greeted her and the sun shone on her locks, its rays stretching into the tomorrows and yesterdays. She saw no ire, no hatred – for all she knew was anything but. Her predecessors mollycoddled her, gifting her anything she ever wanted, and their family of three was the textbook definition of a perfect aristocratic family, where love and trust had a strong reciprocal relationship.
It all began on one fateful night, when little Emilé walked in on her drunk father, Edmund Roux, bringing home a woman, a whore perhaps; and she tried to convince herself that she was lucid dreaming and nothing actually transpired between them. The next morning dawned on her, and eventually she deliberated about that woman she saw that night; wherever did she go?
The day went by without any abruptions. Nonetheless, being a chatterbox, and having an inquisitive nature eventually led her into spewing last night’s episode to her mother Amielé, - like Jack springing out of the box. Her mother gave her a sad smile, laughed it off and rubbed her head whilst saying,
“Oh little one, fret not!”
However, the painful glint of betrayal and hurt was mirrored in her blue orbs as Emilé looked into her eyes and pondered on the weight of truth in her mother’s words. She wondered what was going on and when her mother could not provide the answers, her frustration multiplied and eventually manifested in her.
Three months later, she celebrated her 10th birthday and was gifted a full-blooded dog as a companion by her parents, though not with the same warmth and spark as before. To her, it seemed that celebrating her birthday or doing anything together had grown to be more of a chore rather than an activity they enjoyed together. Her gifts from her father to her now seemed more in the form of compensation and was not tinged in love – just a convenience or perhaps the guilt her father felt when he brought home the whore.
Emilé, being a bright girl knew that her parents had drifted apart ever since the occurrence, with them constantly putting up a false façade just to placate her. The volatile and seemingly violent feuds that happened almost every dusk saw herself crying to sleep; for a while, the only sounds were the crying and bitter weeping of her mother and the bellowing of her father.
“The fights, when will they stop?” She managed to choke out the words. Emilé had long passed the age of reasoning, and the growth of cognition raised the awareness of what was veracious and iniquitous.
And what her old man was doing was very wrong indeed.
Being an 18 year old caused Emilé to be more rebellious in nature. She would bicker and intervene with her dad; who now was labeled as a drunkard, womanizer and gambler as opposed to the man once laden with high self- esteem and love as well as respect for his wife and only daughter. The Roux’s family name was tarnished and soiled, despite the fact that none of her fathers’ illicit activities saw the light of day and everything was done in secret. Now Emilé knew that going against her father was socially unacceptable, but her mother’s unceasing sorrow needs to be put to an end.
Switching from one job to another, Emilé had finally gathered enough funds to move out from that god-forsaken place she used to call her sanctuary and safe place. Being silent victims of physical and mental abuse, they would leave the place without informing Edmund; at last they would be freed from the curse and plague of coming home to a wretched man.
The clock made a loud ‘Ding!’ as it struck 6 p.m and as if on cue, Edmund left the house with a thick, black coat in hand and smelling like tobacco to probably gamble and to unceremoniously end up home drunk and – if he was lucky – with another woman. The wooden door with fading paint and splinters at its edges shut loudly behind him, the window panels rattled due to the force of the motion. It was time, and both mother and daughter began shoving a multitude of clothes and provisions that would sustain them as they traveled all the way to Bristol, a town further up North; away from Clevedon, away from Edmund and away from all these bad recollections.
While packing and for the first time in years, Emilé saw her mother smile from ear to ear, the wrinkles forming around her eyes. Her mother leaned her forehead against hers and spoke softly.
“We move at night, little one.”
Dusk fell as the crickets began to play their song of tranquility and calmness, but the song playing in Emile’s heart was akin to war drums. At home, Edmund was romping on their marital bed where she had come to him in all purity on her wedding night, with another charlatan. She stomached her disgust and quietly crept out of her chambers with her mother and companion. Noctis was a beautifully trained canine and on his back was a sack of provisions. He made no whimper and walked as quietly as night; his name suddenly in resonance with the Latin word for ‘night’, so as to avoid waking up the lustful tyrant in the room down the hall.
They were so close to the gates of freedom and new life when a muffled cry for help greeted Emilé’s ears.
“..If anyone could he… h- help… -e please.. ” the voice was weak and faint. It was strange, however, to hear something so odd in their house and at this time. A chill ran down her spine, and electricity flowed through her veins, but she knew that at this point, her decision to leave it be and depart the house before Edmund awoke, or to go to the source of the cry and recce the area, would be a pivotal verdict.
Her mother and her exchanged uneasy glances, and Amielé gave her a reassuring nod as if to say, “Go, but be quick.”
She replied the gesture and she found herself at the dilapidated basement. Her hair stood and goose bumps arose, but she need not waste more time. The door begrudgingly creaked open and a metallic odor greeted her nostrils – as if that of disinfectant bleach. It somewhat reeked of sterility but with a tinge of what she deduced was blood. She trembled in trepidation, as though Shiva herself passed through her and replaced her spine with ice. It was a disturbing feeling but ironically, her legs made her walk down the wooden stairway which creaked loudly as soon as stepped on them – not before taking the candle by the wall to illuminate her path. She treaded carefully, and eventually found herself at the bottom of the stairs. While struggling to find the switch for the light, she noticed that clusters thick layer of black and brown mold laminated the wall, evident of rain seeping through the roof. In spite of the windows being covered in dirt and dead leaves, she quietly thank whatever moonlight that successfully penetrated the darkness in thin rays. Sooner or later she found the switch and when she flicked it on.
She squinted as her eyes adjusted to the sudden blaring of the artificial lighting. An operating bed was placed in the center of the room in all its iniquitous glory. There was a table not too far from the bed, and on it were metal tools that only surgeons used; scalpels, scissors and small knives. On the far right, a bin overfilled with surgical gloves covered fully in blood which had crusted over time, made her throat dry. She adverted her gaze, but everything in this basement was an unpleasing sight. The rack on the walls were aligned with different glass containers of vile stenching liquid. Instead of white, red sheets lay on the bed and the blood seemed to glisten eerily; it was fresh. Leaning on the wall for support, Emilé felt her knees gave way. This feeling of fear, discomfort and perplexity was ubiquitous and it made her feel sick. The need to cry for help and her stomach in knots rendered cold sweat trickling down her forehead.
A sharp shadow roamed in the darkness. Loud, heavy breathing and soft mumbling echoed throughout the room. The female voice spoke, now clear and rasping in pain, “Please spa-re me…”
Emilé shone her candle in her direction and instantaneously earned a loud hiss from whatever was crouching in the corner. She felt the life leave her body as she saw the woman, her hair disheveled and uncombed, her limbs and face covered in cigarette burns and needle marks. Her neck wore a thick, leather collar, her hands bounded by a metal chain that clanked every time she moved. She was thin and her cheeks were sunken, eye bags so bad they put others to shame. Her bloodshot eyes seemed to reflect pain, anger and fright, like a wild animal. Suddenly, this woman reminded her of the rabid dogs in the pounds.
Emilé kept her distance. “I am the woman from that night, please… please save me…” She laughed sardonically, her cracked, pale lips twitching as she spoke. “End my torment!” she yelled. Emilé had to leave – and she was not bringing that thing with her. Just as she turned to leave, she heard a cry coming from the upstairs.
“Mother!” she cried as she hurried back to where she came from, leaving the begging woman in the room of sins and evil. Ignored, the woman shrieked like a banshee.
“Edmund, my love! This whore child is with me!” She cackled maniacally as she resided further into the dark, her figure blending in with the room. Just a moment ago she begged for mercy, now she was exclaiming her love for her torturer. This woman was senseless. Emilé’s palms were sweaty and she shook with each breath as she ran up the stairs, hearing more screaming of retaliation, and abruptly, a gun shot that rang throughout the night. Her blood turned cold and the crows cawed as they fled the trees, knowing that the surrounding was no longer safe. Emilé burst open the main door, Edmund looming over her mother who was kneeling and weeping. She had thought that Amielé had been hurt, but as she hurried forward, she saw that her mother clutched dearly onto another corpse. Something gleamed under the moonlight; a revolver.
“Noctis!” She wailed as she saw her companion with life ebbing out of him as the moments passed. The dog yelped in agony as gore seeped out of his wound, and with his last ounce of life, he licked Emilé’s cheek – as though bidding farewell, and died in her mother’s blood soaked arms.
“He jumped in front of me when your father pulled the trigger. That bullet was meant for me!” Her mother wept bitterly as she hugged Noctis.
Seeing her best friend die a cruel death was the last thing on her mind, and now that he was gone, all she felt was anger and it filled her up to the brim. Without hesitating, clutching her hands into fists, she gave a war cry as she blindsided Edmund. She slipped to the left of him, managed to make him lose his balance and thus, grabbed a fistful of his hair. She pulled his head forward and broke his nose with her head. Edmund grunted in dismay as blood flowed from his nostril, his hand covering his face.
Emilé quickly picked her mother up who was still in the state of shock.
“Mother we need to leave!” She urged as she hoisted her up.
“Little one…” Amielé whispered weakly as she pointed at the door. The woman from before, she was by the entrance and wielded a machete.
“Edmund! Who caused you pain, my love?” She roared, her voice shrilly like a witch. Her features and apparel made her look malevolent in the luminescence. Edmund had recovered by then, and Emilé sadly shook her head as she knew that they would not stand a chance; they were unarmed and unskilled. The woman made the first move, screaming towards her like a mad animal. Her feet were glued to the grass and even though her mind and consciousness told her to move, her body did not listen. Her eyes closed and she waited for the cold metal to greet her throat but it never did. No pain, no bloodshed; the world was quiet. Furrowing her eyebrows, she opened her eyes.
She wished she kept them shut forever. The machete protruded out from her mother. Wet, sticky blood oozed down the machete in thick droplets, and the woman retracted it violently from her mother’s stab wound. Amielé gasped as her body fell to the ground, the grass now soaked in her own pool of blood as it flowed freely from the hole in her chest.
“I never liked being the second best, Edmund. I never did,” The woman spoke, smiling to herself as she licked the blood from the knife like a sick bastard.
“All those experiments you carried out on me…All your blood transfusions..” She guffawed as she ran towards Edmund; who by then was reaching for his revolver, and stabbed him in the chest. Coated in a thin layer of his own immoral blood, she decided to end hers by slitting her own throat.
She heard Edmund speak far away from her, “I’ll meet you in hell. Both you and Amielé.”
Emilé was too busy to worry about the commotion in the background. Her mother, the only one she loved in this cruel world, was dying. With a shaking hand, she cradled her mother, making sure she was comfortable during her final moments of life. Her other hand covering the wound, a futile attempt to stop the bleeding as it exudes from the spaces between her fingers.
“Please don’t do this to me,” Her tears fell onto her mother’s cheeks. Amielé gave her a doleful smile. She coughed out blood and she struggled to speak.
“May there always be sunshine, may there always be blue skies…” Each drop of blood slowly took away the life in her, leaving her pale and weak, yet defying death. Her mother closed her eyes as she breathed her last, looking at peace.
“..remember to smile, Emilé.”